140 new animation jobs to be drawn at new Lighthouse Studios in Kilkenny
A still from the Cartoon Saloon Oscar-nominated cartoon, Book of Kells. Image: Cartoon Saloon

140 animation jobs to be created at new Lighthouse Studios in Kilkenny

6 Feb 2017

Mercury Filmworks, one of Canada’s most prolific animation studios, has joined forces with Kilkenny’s Cartoon Saloon in a move that will create 140 jobs in the next three years.

Lighthouse Studios will be a collaboration between Canada’s Mercury Filmworks and Kilkenny’s famous Cartoon Saloon.

The plan is to create an all-new 2D-focused animation studio as part of a joint venture.

‘The Irish talent pool has been spilling over into other parts of Europe and North America for years and we look forward to welcoming a lot of that talent home’

In the coming weeks, Lighthouse Studios plans to announce development and production projects, as well as a hiring initiative. The new roles will encompass production management, designers, animators, effects artists, compositors, technical directors, 3D modellers, riggers, lighting and texture artists, and IT administrators.

Lighthouse Studios will provide high-quality children’s and family animated content development and end-to-end production services – from scriptwriting, design, storyboard, animation and compositing to post-production services – to a global client base.

Picture house

Utilising the latest technologies and specialising in 2D animation with some CGI integration, the studio’s production pipeline will mirror Mercury Filmworks’ Canadian operation.

Lighthouse Studios will operate autonomously with its own management team, reporting to a board of directors comprised of executives from both Mercury Filmworks and Cartoon Saloon.

“Ireland has a strong record in film-making, including animation, and I have no doubt that this partnership between Mercury Filmworks and Cartoon Saloon will go from strength to strength,” said Jobs Minister Mary Mitchell O’Connor, TD.

Over its 19-year history, Mercury has helped bring to life many of the most memorable modern animated television and film properties, including Disney’s Tangled animated series and the Mickey Mouse shorts. Other multi-award-winning series include: The Lion Guard, Wander Over Yonder, Star v the Forces of Evil, Jake and the Never Land Pirates, Fish Hooks, Toot & Puddle, Gerald McBoing-Boing, and Atomic Puppet. There is also an upcoming Netflix original series called Hilda, based on the Eisner Award-nominated graphic novels by Luke Pearson.

“We have enormous respect for Cartoon Saloon and could not be happier to announce this collaboration. They are one of today’s most creative and well-respected animation companies with goals, perspectives and philosophies that complement our own,” said Mercury Filmworks’ CEO Clint Eland.

“Conceived as a studio with its own unique identity,” he continued, “Lighthouse Studios is neither wholly Mercury Filmworks nor Cartoon Saloon, but rather the best parts of each, transplanted in the rich Irish soil and nurtured by its own talented team of artists into a studio with its own unique and distinct creative perspective.”

Kilkenny-based Cartoon Saloon is a celebrated animation studio formed by Paul Young, Tomm Moore and Nora Twomey in 1999. In 2010, the studio’s first feature film, The Secret of Kells, was nominated for an Academy Award and in 2015, their follow-up feature, Song of the Sea, garnered a second nomination.

“All of us at Cartoon Saloon are delighted to be in partnership with Mercury, as we have long admired their work. And now, together, we plan to make Lighthouse Studios and Kilkenny a centre of excellence for animation. ”

Young continued: “Ireland enjoys a number of advantages when it comes to animation. The industry is supported by a growing number of educational programmes and draws talent from all over Europe due to the quality of projects being produced here.

“The Irish talent pool has been spilling over into other parts of Europe and North America for years and we look forward to welcoming a lot of that talent home.”

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John Kennedy
By John Kennedy

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years. His interests include all things technological, music, movies, reading, history, gaming and losing the occasional game of poker.

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